ShopSmith Stay Or Go?

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Forum topic by pyromedic602 posted 03-06-2008 04:42 AM 2208 views 1 time favorited 17 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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164 posts in 3945 days

03-06-2008 04:42 AM

I have a shope smith that I am currently using. I am considering buying a cabinet saw. I know there is no comparison to two but was wondering what opinions there are on the matter pro’s con’s etc. Thank’s to everyone in advance for any feed back

-- Pyromedic602, free wood is always good wood

17 replies so far

View GaryK's profile


10262 posts in 4185 days

#1 posted 03-06-2008 04:44 AM

I get the impression that people either love them or don’t care for them.

I’m sure that you’ll get a lot of good advice here.

-- Gary - Never pass up the opportunity to make a mistake look like you planned it that way - Tyler, TX

View Sawdustmaker's profile


295 posts in 3994 days

#2 posted 03-06-2008 05:07 AM

Keep your Shop Smith for a lathe/drill press and buy a cabinet saw. It’s the only reason I hold on to mine. There’s my 2 cents.

-- Brian, Virginia Beach

View Thos. Angle's profile

Thos. Angle

4444 posts in 4159 days

#3 posted 03-06-2008 04:21 PM

I kept mine and use the drill press and disc sander a lot. I occasionally use the lathe as well. It’s also an extra table saw.

-- Thos. Angle, Jordan Valley, Oregon

View Recycler's profile


40 posts in 3961 days

#4 posted 03-06-2008 10:45 PM

I’m with Sawdustmaker and Thos. Angle. The table saw, IME, is the worst part of the Shopsmith. I had one for several years and found the drill press and lathe modes to be adequate for what I needed, at least.

View pyromedic602's profile


164 posts in 3945 days

#5 posted 03-07-2008 07:53 PM

Thank’s for the advice. I do tend to find that if nothing else it is hard to get the blade aligned and maintain it.

-- Pyromedic602, free wood is always good wood

View SST's profile


790 posts in 4392 days

#6 posted 03-07-2008 08:01 PM

I own 2 old model 10er Shopsmiths and, while I dearly love them, I understand the weaknesses of the table saw. I simply work around them. But that’s because I love them & love old tools in general. I tend to agree with most of the other comments that, if you’re going over to the dark side with the cabinet saw, you can’t go wrong keeping the Smith for it’s other functions. It’s a perfectly serviceable machine in the other modes, in fact an excellent one in most, and it saves you a lot of space.
By the way, if you haven’t got a copy of “Power Tool Woodworking for Everyone” by DeCristoforo that features the Shopsmith, & you intend to keep the machine, I recommend getting one. It shows an amazing amount of jigs and “how to’s” with the shopsmith. You can find them periodically on ebay for both the 10er and Mark 5 models at a reasonable price. -SST

-- Accuracy is not in your power tool, it's in you

View 8iowa's profile


1587 posts in 3958 days

#7 posted 03-08-2008 03:16 AM


You didn’t say what model Shopsmith you were using. Back about ten years ago Shopsmith offered the 520 upgrade, which features a much larger table than the old model 500, and has a front and rear locking fence with “T” slots that is equal to the best aftermarket fence. this upgrade certainly puts the Shopsmith a cut above contractor’s saws, and probably on par with most hybrid saws. It can even accomodate the Incra fence and 5000 miter sled. Yes. The table still tilts for bevels, but a variable speed saw has it’s own advantages as well. It is also “slam dunk” quick and easy to change saw blades for an optimum cut. Check out this 520 upgrade on . While there, take in some of Nick Englers “Hands-on-line” video clips.

That being said, a good cabinet saw is certainly a top of the line tool to have in a workshop. You must have the space of course, and the electrical capability. At 500 lbs and above, once set, you are not likely to move it around, so there needs to be adequate space reserved for all you ripping and crosscutting needs.

As a drill press, the Shopsmith may be the only one actually designed for woodworking, and it also has the advantage of being able to drill horizontally. As a sanding station, with the 12” disk sander, and the 6”x 48” belt sander, there isn’t any equivalent on the market. Some people keep the Shopsmith strictly for this purpose. I don’t do much lathe work. However, my son-in-law purchased the Universal Tool Rest for his Shopsmith, and with the Ring Master, has advanced his turning to include ringed and segmented bowls.

The “stand alone tools” vs “combination machine” discussion is one that will never end. Both have advantages and disadvantages. However, it is not unusual for a woodworker who has expanded to a larger free standing shop to keep the Shopsmith because of it’s versitality. Last Summer I built a new 24’x28’ “workshop in the woods” in the Upper Peninsula. Rather than add a cabinet saw, I purchased a second used 520, and a variable speed power station for the belt sander, scroll saw, and band saw. This will give me the advantages of stand alone tools plus all of the capabilities of the Shopsmith.

-- "Heaven is North of the Bridge"

View rikkor's profile


11295 posts in 4071 days

#8 posted 03-08-2008 12:32 PM

Never used a ShopSmith. I thought about it after watching a demo, but a cabinet-maker buddy said get dedicated tools, everything else is a compromise.

View SST's profile


790 posts in 4392 days

#9 posted 03-08-2008 07:06 PM

Hi Rikkor. Your comment is interesting, and I’ve heard that before regarding Smiths, that someone saw a demo and after actually seeing it work, wanted one, then someone who probably never owned or used a Smith (maybe that’s not the case with you, but I’ve experienced it before) talked them out of it while only really having seen one side of the story.
Being admittedly biased, (I did have dedicated tools for a while and after dusting off my old machine that I had relegated to my lake cottage in case I needed to do some work there, I used it to completely remodel the kitchen, and because of how it performed, brought it home and gave my other tools to my kids) I understand that part of my affection for it is that it was my dad’s and I learned on it.
Trying to take that part of it out of the equation, I still believe that for a hobbyist woodworker, it allows me to build all I’m capable of building. I’ve gotten so used to the change over to other tools that it occurs quickly & easily.
This is, obviously, a never ending discussion…the one vs the many tools… but it’s always fun to go at again, isn’t it? We combo tools users always think that if the rest of you guys would just try one, you’d “get your minds right”, and the rest of you just think we’re nuts. It’s like the Fords vs the Chevys, tom-AAA-toe (Dan Quail’s spelling used for proper pronunciation) vs tom-AAH-toe.
I think it’s time to go down to my shop & putz. You’ve all heard enough from this jock for now. Have a great weekend, everyone! -SST

-- Accuracy is not in your power tool, it's in you

View Al Killian's profile

Al Killian

273 posts in 3950 days

#10 posted 03-10-2008 12:38 AM

I love my 500 for the drill press mode, lathe and sander. The tilting table on ther other hand ….

-- Owner of custom millwork shop

View sidestepmcgee's profile


158 posts in 3922 days

#11 posted 03-19-2008 06:10 AM

great post, my grandfather in law has one and dosent use it ,no kids to leave it ive been wondering if i should make him an offer. this post helps .

-- eric post, tallahassee FL

View 8iowa's profile


1587 posts in 3958 days

#12 posted 03-20-2008 03:51 AM


The Shopsmith is a unique multi-generational machine. No other woodworking tool can come close to this “pass down through the family” scenario.

If this Shopsmith is a model 500, or later version, all service parts and up-grades are available. Check out www.shopsmith .com . While there, take in some of Nick Engler’s “hands on Line” woodworking video clips.

-- "Heaven is North of the Bridge"

View Betsy's profile


3391 posts in 4093 days

#13 posted 03-20-2008 04:01 AM

My first power tool, other than a drill, was a Shop Smith. Bought it at the Indiana State Fair. Remodeled my first house with it and got hooked on making toys for my nephews. I used the band saw a lot and it was great. The table saw, compared to what I’ve got now was not all that great.

If you have the space to keep it, I’d keep it for the lathe, disc sander, drill press and the band saw.

The only real shortcoming that I detested was the break down and set up time.

-- "Our past judges our present." JFK - 1962; American Heritage Magazine

View Napaman's profile


5530 posts in 4274 days

#14 posted 03-20-2008 04:43 AM

I am nearing one year on the purchase of my 2003 520…I love it…I am a beginner—-and that may help your consderation or not…I can see that if you are a long time woodworker who has had fully stocked machines and shops then it may be more difficult to go to a SS…because of the tool change overs…but for me…I am weorking at a pace that it is not even the slightest consideration since I am still thinking everything through anyways…

The usual gripes with the machine are the small table saw…which for me is not the case—-the 520 has large tables…and then extensions on top of that make the larger cuts easier…I also really love the machine on casttors…I can wheel my machine around in any configuration—-even out onto the driveway or patio if I need that much room…

The education and support via the SS website is great…they have all kinds of videos for free using the machine…from maintanence to projects…

So far…I am very happy—-my only problem is the amount of time I have…but SPRING BREAK IS 24 HOURS AWAY FOR THIS HISTORY TEACHER…SO GET READY…

good luck in your decision…I will add the links to the forum i started before I purchased mine—-there was a lot of great advice—-and helpful websites that helped me decide…

-- Matt--Proud LJ since 2007

View Napaman's profile


5530 posts in 4274 days

#15 posted 03-20-2008 04:46 AM
here is the link to the forum I ran that helped me a lot on purchasing my SS last spring:


-- Matt--Proud LJ since 2007

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